What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage?

NRIs move back to raise better daughters in law, parents sell their assets to afford dowries; daughters are deprived of freedom and self reliance so that they can be ‘protected and cared for’ by their in laws and spouse.

Although they have little real choice in whether or not they want this life, the responsibility to make this work is still theirs. Sounds fair?

What is Indian Culture?

Traditional Indians seem to see Indian Culture as ‘Raising Indian daughters to be good daughters in law’.

So if Indian women (like other Indians) begin to see a life beyond the goal of Getting Married and Staying Married then they fear that Indian culture is in danger.

Sindhuja Giridharan shared the link to this article about double standards that some NRIs call ‘Parenting’ and ‘Saving Indian Culture’.

//It wasn’t family responsibilities or businesses interests in India that drew Shankar back home after so many years abroad. Quite simply, his little girl had grown up. “It just struck me one day when she refused to change out of her jeans for an Indian party we were going to… She was 11 years old then …”//

Of course the Indian way of bringing up daughters is better than anywhere else. :roll:  That is why we dread having them so much that we pray, fast and abort for sons.

More from that article,

//The question that arises then is: why is imbibing the Indian culture more important for girls than it is for the boys? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that America is thought to foster a sense of individuality, of fierce independence and lateral thinking, which while great for our boys, can severely hamper a woman’s marriage prospects. Of course, most Indian women (groomed from the cradle to make the best wives) are still expected to strive to attain the virtues of domesticity, obedience and docility, to the point of being self-effacing. If the girl must ‘fit in’ with her husband’s family after marriage, she must learn to be flexible, to adjust without argument — lessons of life that some NRI parents feel just can’t be learnt in America’s hedonistic culture of unabashed gender equality, money, sex, drugs and self-gratification.//

Please do take a look at the article here.

Here is a comment that sees loving (?) a child as reason enough to take away any choices from her.

What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage? Which parent would want to take such a risk?


The media always use the term ‘double standards’ . Is it ‘double standard’ when the father drops the daughter to the bus stop & the son has to go all alone?
Is it double standard when the parents are agitated when their daughters out of contact for more than a few hours?

Yes , we treat our children differently. That does not mean we love one less than the other…

Fear of a marriage not working out, but no fear of life long dependence. What message do Indian daughters get?

168 thoughts on “What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage?

  1. “What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage? Which parent would want to take such a risk?”

    The good–your daughter chooses to get out of something that she doesn’t like instead of spending the rest of her life in misery. I don’t see how anyone can see that as being a bad thing.

    About the ‘NRI’s’ abroad–I’ve said this before, but they’re super strange. They’ve clung onto India of the 1950s. I grew up in the South East US and the way the parents raised their kids was insane–sanskrit prayer memorization, always dressing in Indian clothes to the temple [my mom was glared at for wearing pants], super strict vegetarians etc. etc. I had a friend who was born and raised in the US, whose parents were raised in the UK, who believed that you should always marry who your parents choose for you [she had a cousin who chose his own wife and she was against that].

    In comparison to that, the Indians I’ve actually met in India [of the same socio-economic and education level] are a hundred times more liberal. The NRI’s would never fit into this pocket of Indian society.

    • I agree with Kay .. A LOT of NRIs abroad are more orthodox than Indians in India ! They mindlessly cling to old rituals and habits and refuse to progress even though the India they have left behind has progressed so much !

      • The kids turn out so messed up! I remember the other brown kids in my highschool who thought that ‘Indians’ are genetically smarter than x,y,z race, and tons of other similar beliefs which would surely come under racist.

        It’s like hello? Your parents come under the ‘upper middle class’ socio-economic strata and shove academics down your brainwashed throat right after you’re born. Of course you’re going to have a good GPA–has nothing to do with being genetically smarter.

      • Completely agree with this. I was born in India, but brought up abroad, and I know my parents had the same mindset as in the 80s, though I was being told to do things in the late 90s. They just refuse to progress as they cling to the ideologies which they left behind when they moved away.

    • this extra clinging to the so-called 50-s culture may be a defense mechanism to survive in the west (when there is no need for this kinda survival tactics). read this in Deccan Herald… sorry, cant find the link

    • Basically, the NRIs’ values and culture are frozen in time (when they moved from India to Europe or North America). They really are at a loss of knowing how Indians (living in India) progressed since they (NRIs) moved out of the country and desperately cling to the old practices claiming that is Indian culture. You can also see this in their fashion sense. (My fashion sense when it comes to Indian clothes is from the early 00′s when I left India.)

  2. First of all, I object to the usage of terms such as Get Divorced. I’d like to see people asking the same stupid question as – What good…..if your daughter divorces her spouse? Or if her spouse divorces her. (The answer to both is that it wasn’t working out for them and that has nothing to do with how liberal somebody outside of the marriage is.)

    Please consider that your son/daughter is a human being with agency. I have the same problem with Getting Married. Asking women “of marriageable age” when they plan to Get Married is not done. IF they’re in a relationship, asking them when they plan To Marry The Guy is okay. But the whole “Uski shaadi nahin hui?” or “Tumahri shaadi ho gayi?” ticks me off. It sounds ridiculous when you ask – Did your marriage HAPPEN? No, it didn’t happen on its own.

    It should instead be – Are you married? – which these same NRIs would have noticed is the way people outside of India frame the same question.

    As someone who did start on the path to divorce after a little over a year of being married, I have to say I’d previously never considered my parents to be liberal or modern. What do those buckets mean anyway?!

    What good did it do them? If any part of their happiness is a function of my happiness (which it very much is because they’re codependent like crazy), it should lead to a happier life for them. That’s good enough in my book. And even if that wasn’t the case, my happiness alone is worthy enough I should say. Think about it — if THINKING a certain way can make your offspring choose a fresh start and fresh risks over a life of guaranteed doom (because they’re assured they’ll have your support and love, regardless), do you still need to ask what good it is?

      • There are other ways of saying the same thing -girls are “paraya dhan” (hindi : someone else wealth) . Indian parents are MOST worried about getting their girls married (off) ! ..and it happens every since the birth of the girl..

      • The regional languages are the worst culprits.

        In Marathi, the colloquial/provincial expression for “getting married” is literally, “she was given to him”.

        So many older folks say things like “tenna mulgi dili”…”the girl was given to… “.

        It says loads about the underlying attitudes, that women are property that can be exchanged or “given away”.

        In rustic Marathi, the synonym for husband is “malak” or “owner”. :(

        • That is true of every Indian language with which I am familiar. “Pati” in Hindi/Sanskrit, “Swami” in Bengali, “Beend” in western dialects like Rajasthani – they all mean master or owner.
          The word “husband” has a similar root (more akin to “keeper” than “owner”), but the point is that the older meaning has died out. In modern usage “husband” simply mean male spouse. In the modern Hindi however, “pati” simultaneously means “husband” and “master”, so the connotation of ownership is unavoidable.

    • My cousin is divorced and was born and brought up in UK. I once told her that perhaps things were easier for her there because of the ridiculous questions and treatment divorced women tend to get in India. Her response was that the problem was not India or abroad, the problem was the Indian mentality. She faced the same ostracism from the Indian community as she would have here.

    • It’s not always necessary to get married after being in a relationship. I think its again to do with our(Indian) mentality to assume that all relationships should end in marriage.

      • I completely agree. I, too, think it’s extremely reductive to think that every romantic relationship must be on the Marriage Track, otherwise there’s something wrong with it.

        What I meant in my comment was, it makes even less sense to ask the question of someone who’s not even in a relationship. Like it’s a purchase to be made! “When are you buying a house?” “When are you getting married?”

      • “When are you getting married?”

        As soon as you pay for the groom price and my big fat Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun wedding.
        DG would suggest, “oh I’d get married at the drop of hat just let me know if you have someone in mind.” Never heard the question ever repeated.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        • Stumbled upon this post and comment today. DG, I gave a similar reply to a girl who asked me “when is your marriage”? I replied “I don’t know. But if you have any info, let me know”. For some reason, people tend to think “a girl’s career or other ambitions/goals are not so important compared to the fact that she has to get married as early as possible”. Sick people!!!!

        • I’ve heard “So when will we be served the wedding feast”. My response – “If it’s food you want, then anytime. I don’t need to get married just to serve up a feast!” Never heard that question from the same person again – LOL

  3. Well, that just proves that staying abroad and outside india does not make one ‘liberal’! This article is pathetic! jeez! I mean, to draw this big an inference just because the daughter refuses to come out of jeans?!! that too an 11 year old?!
    And living in an unhappy marriage, doing things you actually dont like doing, doing one sided adjustments, not voicing your opinions for the fear or breaking the marriage is better than being divorced and actually giving happiness a second chance?!!! what logic is there in this?
    It is ok to treat children differently, provided it is not based on gender or any such stereotype. Kids have different personalities, and sometimes parents do use different ways to make them understand. But if you are raising your kid in a particular way because she is a girl, then that is completely double standards.

    • I think it has to do with money. Besides, the group with which I grew up were from Africa [their grandparents left Africa for the UK and eventually the US].

      It’s very difficult to lead a nice lifestyle in India unless one has tons of money. Salaries here, aren’t that much (especially when you compare it to the salary you’d get abroad) even for IIM grads (whose starting salaries are some 12 to 16 Lakhs a year). Necessities like electricity and fuel are more expensive than abroad. Houses/buildings are very uncomfortable and badly made unless you’re super rich and can spend quite a lot of money to have nice finishings.

      In the US, on the other hand, you can be an engineer and make a decent 100K a year by the time you’re 35/40. Housing is cheap. Food is cheap. Cars are cheap.

  4. Now why does this sound familiar? My sister is settled in US. has 2 sons… recently we had a talk.. and it went something like this. her 4 year old son is pretty rude and materialistic. materialistic as in he goes to her only when he needs something… he screams and hit her when he want his way. she thinks this is American culture. so they want to com back to India or go to Middle east so that he learns better values…
    I was like have you guys lost it? All kids are like that… Then shes like I was never rude to our parents. How do I

    And whats making me feel real bad is tht she reali loves it in US. She says she can wear what she likes and live her life without dealing with overlarge nosypants. And my bro-in-law acquired his green card only 2 or 3 months back…
    I wish I could make her change her mind bcz we have lotsa relatives in gulf countries. Im dead sure shes gonna regret this. Is there any way to convince her?

    • Please let her come on a holiday and see all the rude 4 year olds here who throw tantrums and throw things,roll on the ground and scream, hit and scratch, pampered darlings of parents and grand-parents. She will be quick to change her mind and stop blaming America for her lack of parenting skills. I can’t believe she thinks her not being rude to parents has anything to do with India! Don’t the parents have any role to play?

      • This reminded me of a scene I saw many years back. I was working as a journalist then and had gone to report an event happening in the Australian embassy. There was a mix of Indian and Australian guests at the party, and while nobody brought kids, the Australian Ambassador (or some similar designation to that effect) brought his wife and three little girls since his family lives right there only.

        The event started and it was an arts and culture evening, beginning with long Hindustani music. My jaw dropped when I saw the kids quietly sitting on their parents lap – they can’t be more than 6-7 years old at the most; the youngest must have been 2-3 yrs! – without making a sound or being restless or cribbing.

        I remember remarking to my colleague who came along, about comparing it to his kids, who would probably climbing the walls within 5 minutes! :P

      • @Smitha @Ashwathy, My son says the same too, that the “badly behaved children are invariably Indians”. In fact he was asking me if I could tell him why it is so.

      • @shail,

        “badly behaved children are invariably Indians”. In fact he was asking me if I could tell him why it is so.

        Because Indian economy has evolved and so has desi material world but not the parenting skills. There is a dysfunctional cycle of parenting. As soon as people become parents they fall into the familiar patterns of the parenting style of their parents. Some new parents do things differently depending on their education and exposure but in the high stress times they revert to familiar patterns, codependency being one of them. This reverting happens unknowingly due to unresolved emotional conflicts with their parents. Wen it happens unknowingly due to familiarity of the stimuli and circumstances it even harder to check it.

        http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/desi-parenting-cycle-of-generational-dysfunction/#comments
        These are series of posts on the topic. yes, I know GGTS needs my attention.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

  5. Agree with Kay, NRIs somehow appear to be more Indian than those residing in India. Its nice to be curious and learn about our culture, but baseless conformation is the problem. Some say the sense of loss of identity makes them grip harder at the Indianness.

    But more importantly why is success in marriage such a huge criterion of anyone’s life? I think this stress on success is what increases problems and leads to abuse and its tolerance.

    Notice how there is no pressure on marriage success on the boy (he of course has to be perfectly career wise successful, which in Indian terms means money). The underlying assumption and the one fear most of us have been sold on is that the guy can move on and get married again, but the girl’s life is ruined. If the shame were equal, I think there would have been some balance.

    And please you expect a 11 year old to be an Ekta Kapoor model? If your society is going to judge 11 year olds then there is something sick about such a society.

  6. This NRI double standard culture has always irritated me so much. I saw these examples live when I was back in the US:

    1. NRI family with son and daughter, settled in the US for close to 25 years. Early-20s son had girlfriends (Indian, non-Indian, no problem) and zero restrictions on any kind of activity. Early-20s daughter was brought up to be so conservative, she would have fit right into a 1960s Indian village (we were in 2003 back then) – no boyfriends, curfew at 9, “decent” clothes and a bunch of regressive attitudes to boot. I think we folks born and brought up in India and in the US to study in grad school were much more “modern” compared to her.

    2. Friend of mine (yes, my generation) saying, “Yeah, we will move back to India soon. S (her daughter) is growing up and we don’t want her to grow up here in the US. Of course (!!!), it would have been different if S had been a boy.”

    Seriously, how is it that this great Indian culture (or whatever it is that the parents in the above examples are trying to preserve) needs to be propagated only through the female line? Are the sons not part-Indian or have the parents disowned them or has being male somehow absolved them of responsibility for being reflectors for their parents views?

    And bringing up a girl to become an adarsh bharatiya nari will somehow ensure that she will get married and remain married and hence reflect unseen glory upon the parents? How stupid. Who cares if the girl even wants all that?

    I think NRIs need to make at least yearly visits to India to get a taste of ground reality. I really think parents bring up their daughters much more liberally here in India than in the US where NRIs cling to an outdated set of views because their India is viewed through the unreliable lens of nostalgia (though why anyone would want such an unfair society to continue to flourish is beyond me).

    • Simple answer. There is a premium on the girl’s virginity (which parents are afraid she’d “lose” if she’s allowed to adopt American culture (read, given her independence). On a boy’s virginity, not so much.

      All our sanskar boils down to this, doesn’t it?

      • @Sparrow – Don’t see a Reply button for your comment, so replying here.

        It’s made out to be a virtue only for girls cos it can only be kept track of for girls. That is the only conceivable reason I can come up with!

      • Dear Sparrow,

        I think this with virginity being important virtue for desi girls is more because in the rest of the world, where we are getting married with our choice only, nobody gives a damn to virginity. A woman is not seen like an ” untouched vagina”. Almost everywhere in the world a woman is respected for her thinking, for her qualities that makes her a good companion, lover, listener, mother, for her power to be everything, not for her quality to be untouched by a guy, to keep her mouth closed even she wants to scream, to be never married.
        Woman can have a very good carreer, can be a leader, can be a mother and a wife if she wants. Almost everywhere woman is the one that choose the guy she will spend the life.
        I don’t know how in India nobody understand that woman is the only one that can live by her own in a very nice way. Guys are the one that are weak and needs somebody to take care of them. We can care of our self also we can make babies and to raise them.
        The only problem is that still in India women are not having access to education and also the lack of jobs. Parents of girls don’t want to have their responsibilities. Is like when they marry the girl from their life disappear a stress that they had all life. Is sad but is true. Concepts must change and will change but only if the new generation will do something. Old thinking will disappear only after one generation ( 50-60 years) will disappear and only if new generation will choose from culture what is good.
        So what i want to say to all womans that living in India or abroad is that they must learn their value and to force others to respect them. Dear girls do you asked ever why parents of guys and also guys wants that you all to be virgin? Because even their sons will have problems with….. sexuality.. ( if you get what i mean) you will never realise. You will always think that this is normal. So in this way they eliminate a reason for divorce. Even nobody recognize, guys and their families are also scared of divorce (because of society thinking). My Indian bf told me that if I marry with him and then divorce his chances are less to get a nice girl after that. Maybe he must take a divorcee. And believe me was such a sadness in his talks. I was stunned of his affirmation because i am a divorcee too. I was not knowing if to laugh or to cry. He said that better will take an Indian girl from beginning because in this way he will not have all his life the tension that girl can leave him. I am still in shock.

    • @Sparrow,

      Virginity in women was a priced commodity even in the west until early 1900s. Women were courted and they were engaged to be married, divorces were looked down upon in the parents of baby boomers. Baby boomers and flower children changed everything.

      Virginity is a patriarchal tool to control women’s autonomy and access to public space and more over it is an instrument to control men by other men as all women are related to men through birth or marriage. To humiliate, subjugate or control and man/group/community a female relative of his/theirs is raped. Basically women has got nothing to do with virginity it is all about men controling each other through female bodies.

      With desis it is exacerbated because desi neither had economic standing nor political clout given the fact of Raj so the brown man could only command his home, women and younger men. Raj went home and changed its rules but Bhura Saheb is still towing the line.

      Hope this explains ongoing desi obsession with virginity.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

  7. Women after marriage want to settle abroad for sometime to avoid MIL issues and meaningless rituals. Couples want to enjoy their independence without any restrictions. There women who demand “MS settled abroad” for a groom and men readily agree. Parents are also eager to let their daughters/sons settle abroad AFTER marriage – for the same reasons of non-interference.
    But after kids are born, the same couple who valued independence more than staying in India or closer to family or abide by Indian rules want to come back and teach their children (esp girls) how things happen here – how you should not date, how submissive you should be, what and what not to wear. The cycle repeats.

  8. The article seems very off base. In all my years in the US, I have yet to hear of families who send daughters back to India…and I have a pretty large sample size to consider..and the sample size of people includes various communities as well as age groups and economic backgrounds..and yet I have NEVER heard of daughters being sent back..yes I have heard of the occasional “the kids (meaning both boy and girl) were sent to India for a few months so that they could learn Gujrati/Punjabi/Kannada/Tamil(Insert fav language here)”
    And even in the article..the only example where it is starkly clear that they are discriminating because it is a girl is the one where the 2 girls were sent off and the boy wasnt. In the one about the girl refusing to change from jeans..maybe it would have been the same if it was a boy.. who knows? Maybe they didnt want their kids (Boy OR girl) to be raised with ‘western values’ and honestly to that I say… to each their own..and if you read on..it also says they dont have regrets..and really isnt it better that they return to India if they think they will never fit in there in the US? I know of families in the US where the kids are not allowed to assimilate and are allowed to make only desi friends..In my opinion, realizing that you will not fit in is better that living abroad and refusing to assimilate there

    • //”I have yet to hear of families who send daughters back to India”//
      It is happening all the time. This is the second time this year I am hearing of parents relocating because they have a ‘daughter.’

      • If they do not relocate, they try to send the daughters back to India to study where as the sons can go to any country on the globe. Atleast, that is what happened with me. There was just no room for any questions as to whether I would like to go to India to study. I was I would say, brainwashed to understand, India is the best option for me.

  9. Sigh, I wonder how many people here are actually sons/daughters of NRIs. I am one, by some stroke of fortune (Good or Bad) a Son. I see this happen everyday. Friends of the family running around to get their daughters married before they turn 25. Others trying to get a “Good girl” for their son who is not really ready but has given in to the age old coaxing of mothers.

    Do notice that more often than not, in both cases the girl is supposed to uproot herself and move every part of her life to a totally new country (of course unless she has a green card or is a nurse in Europe). Friends, jobs, career and all other things that make up your life vanish. The explanation is that you will find new friends, new jobs, new careers. I personally call the friensd so made “Friends of Convenience” – People who would never have been in your circle except for the fact that they are the only people you know.

    Sorry that I am ranting here but as a potential groom (according to my mother) this has so much importance. Thankfully, the parents are a little more considerate and I am still happily unmarried. :D (But then maybe that is coz I am Male)

    Thanks IHM for this article. Glad to see I am not the only one that thinks these things

  10. This is so anger inducing and absolutely stupid.

    Indians in India tend to be more liberal than Indians abroad at times.

    Everyone is pretending to follow culture and they keep at it because of society without realising that everyone is just pretending due to others.

    I knew some people who have settled abroad for generations and still follow more rituals than we even do in India. It is normal to an extent as your Indian-ness comes out more when you are abroad but this is just plain regressive.

  11. I do see this need to be more “Indian” with the NRIs settled in US, especially the ones who have lived here about 20 years. I know that my colleague had a daughter, gave birth to a set of twin daughters and promptly decided to move back to India because “you cannot raise girls here, they will date when they are teenagers”! So yeah, education has nothing to do with it.

    And for people who ask what use is modern thinking if daughter is divorced in the first year, think of this – your daughter may get divorced, but she will still pursue happiness. Your daughter’s marriage may fail, but never her self respect.

    • /you cannot raise girls here, they will date when they are teenagers”!/

      To each their own, I guess.I know someone who was in two minds initially about staying permanently in the US. However, post her second daughter’s birth, she became determined to take up permanent residency ‘because India is a terrible place to raise girls’.

      • Ofcourse, to each their own. But what bugs me is the double standards. While US has its share of issues, India is not problem free either. It is sadly one of the most unsafe places for women, especially at night. Eve teasing aka sexual harassment is rampant everywhere. But all that is ok as long as they dont date? And ofcourse, with a boy, these questions would not have even arisen

      • Honestly I would agree with her.

        I would never want to raise a daughter in India.

        No matter how loving and supportive a woman’s family environment is, the society at large constantly sends out only one message “You are female, therefore less than…”

        I cannot think of even one Hindu ritual, tradition or custom that is not patriarchal, directly or indirectly.

        The real outrage is that WOMEN are supposed to uphold, transmit and embody all these anti-women customs.

        A woman has to ensure that her DIL has male progeny.

        A woman has to ensure that her son demands and gets dowry.

        A woman has to fast or wear a mangalsutra for her husband’s long life.

        A woman has to ensure that her daughter is raised to be a “good wife and DIL” and remains a virgin before marriage.

        So, basically, the enslaved have to ensure that others are similarly enslaved.

    • I would disagree about India being a bad place to raise girls. I feel immensely lucky to have grown up in India and not as an NRI child, when I see how much gender-biased the NRI community in the US tends to be generally. And what hurts me most, as a newly moved from India, slightly mushy about India person is that it’s ALL IN THE NAME OF INDIANNESS. I agree that I grew up in a rather exceptional environment in India, under the protection of fiercely feminist parents, but hey, all the gender bias in the world does not have its roots in our country, and I hate it when immigrant communities here try to pass it off as that. I had a hard time convincing my NRI cousin that feminists exist in India and that the real, moving, growing India of today is nothing like what her parents’ brainwashed her to believe. I am not saying a country where every 1 in 2 girls drops out of or does not go to school is a paradise to grow up in, but I’d rather grow up knowing and facing these real problems and learning about the battle against them than in a faraway country where my community imposes regressive values on me in the name of culture and tradition and I can only feel utterly bewildered and confused and frustrated about why being Indian should have anything to do with my personal freedom being curtailed at every stage in my growing up years(and beyond!). In India, I have been able to come to terms with my Indianness on my own, and “you’re just not Indian” isn’t a blackmailing/manipulating tactic anyone will ever get away with using with me to get me to do something! I can come up with a thousand retorts as to how and why I am exactly as Indian as they are. But for NRI kids, this is a potent card, because somewhere deep within them they feel the need to prove an Indianness (as they have been conditioned to believe that being American is not a good thing), but not really being in touch with India, they are unable to forge their national/cultural identity on their own terms and succumb to emotional pressure from their perfectly evil parents to do “traditional Indian” things such as marrying withing the community and so on in a hope of redeeming themselves of the sin of not being Indian enough for their parents!! And the irony is, they are guilty of not being very Indian(although how that is a crime, I shall never understand) because their super-Indian parents decided to pack up and leave the motherland and move to the US for, bluntly put, $$$.

      • Bingo, Blinkdot, bingo.

        Why should NRI kids have to “prove their Indianess” when their parents apparently disliked their homeland enough to permanently separate from it?

        If the parents loved India so much, why did they leave in the first place?

        That’s just a rhetorical question, I know why Indians like “foreign”. :)

      • @Blinkdot,

        This one feminist desi born and raised in des living in west and feels safe given her limitations to stay put because she can’t afford to fight every street harassment. While in des she had to prove she was feminist enough because she did not know then if those asking her to prove owned feminism.
        Likewise unless NRI kids know that neither their parents nor anyone else owns Indian-ness things won’t change.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

  12. NRI’s in this age are much more orthodox than the indians living in india…They are holding on to what was taught to them maybe 10-20 years earlier, before they left india..These kind of people never feel at home abroad though they would have been living there for atleast half thier lives. They keep holding on to thoughts/actions/activities to what they were doing in india in the name of culture just because that is something familiar to them and gives them a feeling of ‘belonging’. In fact i have seen many families where few members who are settled abroad make every effort to ensure that certain festivals/functions are celebrated in the ‘perfect’ manner whereas their siblings here in india just dont bother going about it. I sometimes feel, the NRI’s are actually ina very confused stage and maybe they should just take a break and come back to live in india for a few years just to see how much people living in india have changed. maybe that will create a new sense of what culture they need to uphold going forward in them! i have seen some who have tried..but unfortunately they are neither able to belong here nor there..which is quite sad..
    And talking about marriages…they always come with a risk of seperation…it needs to be accepted. if its not suiting someone, its not suiting them thats it….its better to come out and be happy than be in it and not be happy.

  13. too much bashing of Indian culture..oho come on
    there is so many cases where families with son as child came back to India. but why you people deliberately picking the small lot family which are coming back to India to define the Indian culture.
    if you love so much of that culture go and live there no body is stopping you and writing articles against you. why you bother about there return to there mother country there may be many more reasons.

    • Sri,

      I also came back to India for many valid reasons. They didn’t include imbibing Indian culture and being pressurised to marry or having people poking into my business. No one is saying that people should not return back to India, but returning because they want their kids to have Indian “values” makes you think exactly what values?

      • thats what why you are poking in there business.

        you have preconceived notion is that Indian culture = miserable life for a girl and the materialistic culture which existed in states as holier than thou thinking i am not going change it. you dont see so many ills in that society. your thinking is that the family which are come back to India only with single daughter because they want to marry off. come on how can you judge them so easily. my relatives returning to India one family having two sons and another family having both son and daughter. is they are coming back to imbid them with some bad indian values.
        i checked it is very half biased article with some little examples brushing for whole Indian culture. and some body is talking about rituals, and some other traditions following by family. if you don’t like it don’t follow. then why you people are making short sighted judgments.

      • Sri, it is only targeted at those NRIs who come to India to bring up the girls (like the way the article discusses) . It is not about all NRIs. In that case again, it will be all very subjective. Most NRIs cannot handle the fierce freedom the western society gives to their kids. And that can be fairly generalized. Is it good or bad had to be understood in the context of it. Right now, we are talking about why shouldn’t a girl grow up as a human being with respect..And why should she be the only one to be raised in a certain way- so that the marriage sustains!.. The so called “Indian culture” itself is fast changing for good.. s

      • I am not “poking” in anyone’s business. I am making a statement that my reason for return was not because I thought that as a woman, I would have better growth here. Meaning I agreed that there are other reasons that people could choose to relocate to India.

        I have lived there, so I know and have seen the ills in their society. That has got nothing to do with saying India is better for raising children overall. The reason that this has been taken up in this blog is because this blog deals with such narrow mindedness of people putting their kids at a lower importance than what they think “good Indian kids” should be.

        And last, I do not presume to know why or what for your relatives wish to return to India. That is none of my business, and if they are returning for some genuine reason as opposed to give kids some “Indian values”, more power to them.

        It is also easy to say “if you don’t like it don’t follow”, but very difficult to implement. So Sir, I would request you to kindly not negate the struggle of women in India against the ridiculous rituals and traditions imposed upon them by saying so easily “you are free to not follow”. We all know things don’t work that way in this country.

      • Sri, you said:

        you have preconceived notion is that Indian culture = miserable life for a girl and the materialistic culture which existed in states as holier than thou thinking i am not going change it.

        It’s not a preconceived notion for me to say that Indian culture is more patriarchal and misogynistic than the US culture, because I have lived in both cultures. OK, I agree that it’s anecdotal. You don’t have to take my word for it. If you want more proof, look at this report on gender inequality index.

        http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Table4.pdf

        India fares far worse than the US. So it’s not a preconceived notion anymore. It would be willful ignorance to claim otherwise.

        you dont see so many ills in that society.

        The criteria to decide which country has more ills in my view is very subjective. Personally I think the US is better off in many ways than India. I don’t expect you to agree with me. It’s just that my preferences and criteria are most likely very different from yours.

        if you don’t like it don’t follow.

        Yes, I try my best to not follow the practices I don’t like. I don’t believe in religion, but I am somewhat forced by my parents, aunts and uncles to go to temple, follow the rituals, etc. I make compromises because I would rather follow a silly ritual than create friction in the family. There are other things I don’t compromise on (like getting married only to please my family). So it’s not that simple.

    • Sri,

      This is an article about people moving back to India for the wrong reasons (at least according to the author of the article, IHM and several commentors here including me). So yeah, not all NRIs are like that. Not all returning NRIs are like that.

      The article shows that just because one has fancy education and lives abroad doesn’t mean that one is open-minded and egalitarian.

      if you love so much of that culture go and live there no body is stopping you and writing articles against you.
      This is a childish thing to say. There are many things I don’t like about the culture I am currently living in, but I prefer this to India for several reasons I won’t go into here. But you can’t shut me up by saying “go to your own backward country if you don’t like such-and-such from our culture.” I guess IHM (sorry IHM, if I am putting words in your mouth) also doesn’t like several things around her. She’s bringing such things to out attention and criticism. We have to first recognize the problem in order to fix it.

  14. Just watch more movies like DDLJ and Pardes, and you will see how much this is entrenched in the psyche of Indians. Also, by the way, what on earth is wrong with materialism? What is wrong with money? Show me one person who doesn’t want money to live a good life! And we should stop with the spiritual East, material West crap already. It is news to me that ostentatious weddings, dowry, degrees for showing off, pedigree matching in marriages, etc. are spiritual. Oh, and selective female abortions is spiritual too, I suppose.

  15. What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage? Which parent would want to take such a risk?

    The good is that I am not breeding a future daughter-in-law, I am raising a human being who can think for herself, who can live for herself, who can fight for herself, the good is that I will not get a call one day that my daughter ‘accidentally’ burnt to death, the good is that she will NOT be a slave, a cook, a maid, a so called keeper of some family’s honour, she will not one day be forced to abort a baby girl, she will not be forced to live life on someone else’s terms, wear what they say, eat what they say, speak what they approve of, work only as much as they approve, the good is that my daughter will be FREE, free to make her mistakes, free to divorce, free to marry again if she so wishes, free to not marry at all, free to have kids, free to not have them, the good is that my daughter will expect to be treated as a human being and with respect at ALL times, that she will not tolerate being a second rate citizen, the good is that she will marry for love, not after ticking off some check-list, the good is that SHE will be the one who decides her future – whatever it may be, the good is that she will never become a Sweety (http://starsinmeyes.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/how-much-does-it-cost-to-kill-your-daughter/), the good is that we will never think of her as ‘paraya dhan’, she is our baby and will always be so.

    Me – Love your comment!!!

  16. My uncle moved to the US in the 80′s. And he is still stuck in an 80′s India. When I chose who I wanted to marry, most of my family made a hue and cry, but once they met the would-be-husband and interacted with him, they came around very quickly. My uncle though never relented. He would call me and give me hour long ‘talks’ about how this was against our culture, ‘think of how your parents would feel’ (even though said parents were okay with it!), ‘what will people think’, ‘don’t you trust your parents to find the right groom for you’ etc. I didn’t have to deal with this kind of drama even from my parents or from other relatives living in India!

    And though it’s been two years since my wedding, I don’t think he’s still accepted it really. Last month he was in India, and he took my sister out for dinner, and gave her a long spiel about how parents and elders were best suited for selecting a husband for her since they had more experience and wisdom. Gah!

    The double standards in the way he brings up his son and daughter are evident. For example, the daughter is not allowed to date. When he found out she was dating somebody, there was lots of drama followed by promises that she shouldn’t do such a thing. The son tells me that he has never been given any restrictions on dating and says “Isn’t that so unfair to Akka? I can’t believe Dad thinks like this even after 30 years of living in the US”.

    All of this of course stems from the fact that the responsibility of upholding family honour/national culture/insert any other abstract, meaningless concept of choice rests on the female. Thus it is that men can largely do what they want without any effect on family honour or national culture or traditional values; but the minute a woman steers off the path envisaged for her by society and family, she is set to destroy all of these single-handedly.

  17. Ok! So, if a couple (or rather, mostly, only one of them) drags on a marriage in spite of big genuine problems in the relationship don’t divorce, it’s a successful marriage, right? Isn’t something seriously wrong here. What is our goal: staying happy or (so–called) saving a marriage that was never meant to happen?

  18. This NRI and others like him, hope they are not thinking of an India with fakirs and men doing rope-tricks? He is going to get a rude shock when he returns and finds that unlike him India is progressing and that his daughter (11 year old) still will want to wear jeans.
    I remember a friend who told me that people staying out of India try to be more Indian than the Indians in India :) Some of my cousins have notions of an India they left behind in the 80s.

      • Good for you. Get her a hoodie and lower to wear at home and she’ll get hooked to it and then when she is in India she’ll go around in those. This is what we did to all our moms in the extended family.

        It is interesting one time that God forsaken now ex saw my mom in PJs and he was shocked coz’ he had never seen a desi middle aged woman living in India in PJs, yes in nighty with chunni draped on shoulders for sure :)

        Hey everyone, does anyone remember that post on nighties as national alternative to jeans/pants. Please I want to reread it please, please post the link.
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

  19. This might upset a lot of NRIs if they read this, but in my experience a lot of NRIs ( not students but people with families) who have moved back to India have done so mostly because they have either lost a job there or simply got better ones here in India.

    Then come the explanation of we wanted to do something for the country, I wanted to revisit my roots, I want my children to learn Indian culture etc etc…

    This is actually keeping in touch with social norms here in India. A couple of years ago when a project closed down and I along with many others all were told to look for new jobs, people were shocked I was openly saying I had lost my job and was unemployed.

    • oh yes .it’s the main reason in last few years wth the economic slowdown and i really like it how ppl feel ashamed of telling about losing jobs ..what the heck it happens to the best of them , when there are no jobs , many lose it ..and also some friends confess they don’t gell with goras and they don’t like orthodox desi’s . they prefer their circle of libral friends here ..

  20. It’s not the jeans, NRI that makes trouble. It’s the attitude.

    When people whine about boys given freedom unlimited and girls being asked to be chaste, yes they are making a genuine complaint of double standards. I agree. But the part to be corrected is not how they raise the girls, but how they should be raising the boys, as chaste as the girls should be.

    If one eats unclean food, you tell him not to do so. You do not match him by eating the same.

  21. A family friend who stays in the US gossips about a friend’s daughter (indian) who wears clothes, which are not decent, according to her (rolls eyes), but at the same time has a son who is encouraged to date (Indian, American – she doesn’t care).

    I was one who used to believe (very strongly), that whatever the parents decide is for the child’s benefit. But it has changed now, a lot. These people are hypocrites. They want the dollars, they want the children to be born there (citizenship), but they want their daughters (daughters only), to remain “Indian” (Their definition of being Indian is something I wouldn’t agree with).

  22. Why do we in India overrate almost everything???And why do we have this ridiculous craving to play blame games??
    Be it marriage, divorce, rape…..we try and find out someone to put the blame on and mostly the soft targets are the victims themselves.

    High time we accept marriage as a normal partnership where both the people involved are equally responsible to make it work or the vice versa.

    And Let’s get it clear , a broken marriage, like any other relationship, is any day better than a miserable one.

    I have personally witnessed few divorces where women involved did everything asked by their in-laws and still ended up in to a messy relationship. And since the parents couldn’t consider making them financial independent as they were busy training them to be a good daughter in law, they landed up into being dependent on fathers/brothers and had to lead a dejected life throughout.

    My take : Why don’t the parents consider bringing up a child (irrespective of gender) in a way that he/she is an independent and responsible human being who knows how to maintain his/her individuality and simultaneously respect other’s. Wouldn’t that be better for the society as a whole??

  23. I can write a whole post and more about these attitudes. We are returning to India this summer. As soon as I mention the plan, I have people here, sagely nodding their heads, ‘yes, you have a daughter, no, it makes sense’. When I try to explain that, that is definitely not the reason we want to return’, some have asked me, ‘You mean, you are ok with your daughter growing up in this culture?’ Of course, if you have a boy – it is alright, but with a daughter, you have to protect her from the ‘western culture’! Someone once told me that the NRI girls end up spoilt because they refuse to go in for arranged marriages, while NRI boys apparently are better behaved because they have no problem getting married to whoever their parents choose for them!!!! Yeah, right!

    Even people who have just been abroad for a few years, seem to think that India is that magical land where all the girls turn out nice and demure. The boys being brattish is perfectly fine, because of course, boys will be boys – and anyway, the ‘family honor’ is not linked to the boys of the family anyway!

    That statement about girls getting divorced – why are so bothered about the marital status and not whether or not a person(man or woman) is happy in the relationship. I would hate my daughter to grow up thinking that she has to remain in a relationship, whether happy or not. For that matter, I want her to know that she should get into any relationship only when she is ready for it – not because the society expects her to. And I want her to know that her happiness is the most important thing. I would rather she grew up into a confident young woman who knows her mind, is independent, and is able to stand up for herself, rather than a person who is a puppet of a society which would not care less about her happiness.

  24. IHM, Even in the army, some families (only mother and children) return to home town because it would not be good for “daughters” to be brought up in the liberal atmosphere of army stations. This reason has been cited by many in my hearing as the reason they returned.

    • Yes Completely agree. My parents are from Andhra, I was born and brought up in north, my parents clung to Andhra culture to the extent that I started hating telugu men when i reached marriageable age and married a north indian to their horror.

  25. Pingback: Relocating back to India.. | Any Excuse to Write…

  26. Many immigrants when transplanted into an alien culture tend to cling on to their roots. They lose the ability to change with times as they are living in a society of memories. NRI’s are the biggest funders of Indian Spiritual groups which tend to harp on traditional patriarchal values.

    • Agree with Arun
      In the community forum where I am member, a very large number are retired and settled abroad and living with their sons (mostly) or daughters.
      Their views and opinions on various issues expressed in the forum are generally more orthodox than those of local members. I get the feeling they have excluded  themselves from western society, and have also mentally “ghettoised” themselves, and they yearn for desi culture and customs. So it is hardly surprising that they are treated as outsiders and kept at arms length by the white skinned locals. What is surprising is that these Nris resent this instead of understanding why that happens.

      I also agree with Aditya. I too know of some NRIs who returned during the recession.
      The men were frank and privately admitted to me that they had lost their jobs.
      Their parents here were singing a different tune. One of them claimed that their  son had had enough of  western prosperity, material wealth etc and wanted to get back to roots and serve the motherland.

      Regards
      GV

      • Arun & GV sir, I cannot agree more. When I studied abroad, Indians were the majority, and they would never mingle with the students from other countries. Indian culture was held onto so tightly that the foreigners could not even enter the group as well. Most of the guys lamented the fact that they did not have a wife who would cook and look after them, while they studied. In fact, many of them after they landed in a decent job, came back home for a week, picked a bride and took her back. Their wives are now cooking, washing, cleaning up for them, while these go to work. Most of the wives are so depressed because they are bored, out of jobs, no visa to work and nothing to look forward to apart from a husband who comes back home expecting hot food. And in order that the link to India is not severed, they do all kinds of poojas, and other things in the name of preserving the culture.

      • oh yeah and this too. many of the desi men and women i see have such false pride in accepting that they were laid off from the job, hence returning home, also at times i hear women claiming to be stay at home moms because they want to see every milestone her child achieves where as the fact is that they either dont have the work visa or they are unable to find a job. many many many varities i come accross every day.

      • Last year DG had the opportunity to visit mini Punjab in the North Americas, Brampton. It was an eye opener, it felt she was driving around in Chandigarh sectors. There is exclusive desi shopping mall, desi flea market, desi stores with nighties hanging outside, bhutte wali yelling (corn on the cob seller)…

        Older Punjabi men measured every woman walking into the parking lot with their eyes. While these men were outside socializing and discussing Indian politics their aging wives stayed home and to feed their hard working sons the artery clogging goodies (DILs too worked mostly). None had ever been to a home of a person from another community especially white san black, guess none lives there anymore.

        Young girls in Brampton still have oiled braids. Young boys are harry, sharrys or peters.

        So you are right GV,
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

  27. Retaining culture and staying true to your roots is important wherever you are, what matters is the definition of that Indian culture and traditions.
    There are people who are religious, traditional, cultural and still very liberal, open minded and free thinking. Let us not get confused between the two.

    I live abroad, and yes, I have seen Indian families getting worried about their kids, this worry is equally for boys and girls.
    Yes, they do worry about girls a little more ( and this is true not just for Indians, but for Local westerners too!) only because girls do bear the brunt a lot more, ending up pregnant and struggling to complete even college. You have to understand dating, sex, drugs, violence is on your face in the western world, kids as young as 7 & 8 are ready for dating ( when they should be playing!) , there are push-up bras for 8-10yr olds, just imagine how worried you feel as a parent raising kids in such an environment.

    My friend with 2 boys moved back because the boys as young as 7 & 9 were talking about drugs and sex. I agree things are not very different in India, but at least some parents hope that being surrounded by loving grandparents and other family members there is a little hope that the kids will get better.

    Having said that, as a woman, I love being outside India …and there is just one reason for that – Freedom, freedom, freedom….to be MYSELF!

    • Why are you clubbing dating with sex, and drugs & violence with the other two? Dating is a harmless activity for any age. Sex is something that kids ought to be educated upon. If you live in the USA, there are so many problems with traditional Christian “values” that disallow proper sex education to many kids. Drugs are again something that kids must be educated on. And let me make it clear that India has one of the largest drug consumption in the world, so we are fooling only ourselves here. Violence is abhorrent and must be deplored in any form.

      • I do not agree that Dating is fine at a very young age. And these days it does not remain that innocent, kids are experimental quite early in life.

        I agree most of these problems are universal, and it is a struggle for parents anywhere to educate or control their kids in these matters. I have friends of other nationalities, and their fear for the kids in these matters is not very different.

        NRIs somehow like to believe that things will be better for the overall growth of their kids when they are brought up in India, and moving back does help some of them. There is also an other reason why parents move back which they normally don’t tell, college education is ridiculously expensive outside of India.
        The biggest fear Indian parents at least of this generation have is about their kids not doing well in school or college because of these outside influences. At least that is what I gather in the conversations I have with my friends.

      • Exactly.

        If I had a daughter, I’d be far more worried in India, than in West,

        In the US, you can educate your daughter about sex, violence and drugs and hope that she chooses wisely.

        You can do the same in India, yet find out one day that your daughter was raped on her way back from school.

        What do you do then? In the US, you could call the cops. In India?

        We all know how that story ends, don’t we?

    • This is really interesting to me. I don’t think this particular issue has anything to do with Eastern culture vs. Western culture, but more to do with parenting. For some reason parents avoid talking logically to their kids about serious issues (drugs, sex). Kids here things from their friends, from the TV, movies, ect. I think it is the parents responsibility to create an environment in which their kids feel comfortable coming to them with questions, and actually talking out things rather than being on the negative side of a one-sided convo about these “Western ills” .

      Just my 2 cents :)

    • I don’t buy the ‘sex, drugs, and alcohol’ being ‘in your face’ in the ‘western world.’ I went to high school in the evangelical South–kids went to prayer meetings, not clubs.

      In India, on the other hand, I’ve met far more people who do drugs. And I don’t just mean marijuana, I mean cocaine, ecstasy,and acid (though surprisingly, I haven’t met anyone who does heroin). And these are all normal people, with regular jobs (some with no jobs, aka ‘handling family businesses’). The way I see it, kids are far more likely to try drugs in this environment than the US or Canada.

      • Drugs these days are a big problem in India too, no denying, the risk is anywhere, but Indians would like to believe growing up in a social circle among loved ones, kids being kids for a long time among cousins, friends and a big family circle will deter them from experimenting early in life.
        Hey, it is just a belief that ‘we grew up fine there, so will our kids’ , whether it works or not depends on a lot of other factors including parenting.
        And no, culturally it is still a big problem for Indian parents to talk about sex, drugs etc with their kids. I think it is not different with NRIs too.

  28. I think a lot of this has to do with the warped ideal SO many Indians, both in India and abroad, hold, of ‘Indian culture’ and ‘Western culture’. They arbitrarily form their own definitions of these two terms, and anything ‘undesirable’ in their eyes is ‘paschimi sabhyata’ – this means being open with regards to sex, not being sexist or patriarchal, women being given the same freedoms as men, women working full time rather than exclusively handling the home. I am sad to say I have met people who still find the idea of a wife/mother working full time bewildering (doesn’t the husband earn enough? My own parents both work full time, and when I was a young kid, somebody asked my mother this in front of me.)

    These people somehow see marriage and the ‘image’ of their family/daughter/son as some sort of status symbol. Who cares if the daughter is unhappy, trapped in a loveless and/or abusive marriage? She’s married, bas. That’s all that seems to be important. I think they seem to focus more on the status of being married than the actual marriage itself.

    That and ‘bharatiya sanskar’ of course – where the girl has to remain ‘chaste’/’pure’/’virgin’ until marriage but the guy is free to do whatever he wants.

    Both these terms rankle me – in my opinion, this ‘bharatiya sanskar’ that they speak of is nothing but unnecessary, unasked for moral policing. Of themselves, and the whole world

  29. Firstly I’m surprised that so many people find it surprising to learn about the NRI double standards.

    I know a lady who was forced to send her her who was I think between 2 and 3 years old back to Tamil Nadu because the grandparents declared to the father “unge pasangale varlakaa mudiyathu” meaning ‘its not possible to raise kids there” the lady went from being a happy and talkative to quiet and depressed. There used to be this sadness in her eyes and then after a couple of years the grand parents sent the kid back to the USA saying they are old and that the mother should take care of her own kids. This was after she had just given birth to the little girl’s sister via c-section before a few weeks.

    A family friend is moving his family and two girls under 8 to India because they want to wear shorts and when they sit they sit crossing their legs one over another. Honestly when he told me these reasons I was left speechless. He also proudly says that if his girls were to do the same thing in India his mom would pinch them in their thighs.

    On the contrary, a couple close friends of mine who moved to India for a work assignment for 3 yrs came back here after 14 months saying Bangalore is too advanced and there is no way they could can raise kids there.

    I think we Indians try to keep talking about our how culture is mahaan and we have to become its saviors is partly because of our laziness to learn and assimilate new things. Sure we might get a turkey and carve it for thanks giving but not learn and appreciate the real meaning behind the festival. We might wear a costume for Halloween but not understand why that festival came to be, Many folks who celebrate Indian festivals and acts as the saviors and keeps of Indian culture here probably gave a hoot about it while they were in India themselves.

    Also, I’d like to add to what the other poster’s have said about NRI’s raising sons and daughters differently. While the sons are allowed to date, they are not allowed to marry. I met an “aunty” at a party who was told me( or rather trying to show off how American or broadminded she was) that she told her son who was 21 and in college, that he was free to do what he wanted meaning date and other things as long as he would not marry anyone but the girl chosen by his parents who had been born and raised in India.

    • Really? This mom is encouraging..wait…forcing her son to only have mindless physical relationships and practice remaining emotionally unattached? Oh he is going to have such a lovely marriage!

      • Well it won’t matter much.

        The girl he marries will be imported from India, where her parents would have trained her to “stay married” no matter what.

        The son will sow his wild oats, marry a docile Indian little woman, provide his parents with DIL and grandkids, and will live happily ever after!

  30. What is the difference between Desis who abort baby girls in the womb and Desis who give birth to girls and clothe, feed and breathe regressive culture rules into them?

    • NO difference and both should be equally culpable. At this time the topic under discussion is the NRI part that’s all. Another being thief doesn’t make the first thief’s crime any less. Does it?

  31. “What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage?”
    If that is the reason they are returning to India, they seem to be living in a grand illusion. Divorces are happening in India too. And why is it the Daughter’s fault for getting a divorce? When a marriage dissolves there’s two parties involved isn’t it?

    I don’t think we, (Most, doesnt matter where they are living) Indians, understand the meaning of Liberal or Modern. And no! we aren’t Liberal or Modern although we like to think so. We have more in common with the Republican party of the US and probably most of us would vote for the Republicans if we are citizens here. Make one statement about our religion, our clothing, our food, religion and “culture, which none of us can define what it really is” and see how quickly we will be provoked into an unsavory reaction. We still have prejudices when it comes to what job a person is doing(there is no dignity of labour in our eyes), the gender of the person, the language of the person, the caste, the part of the nation, the part of the world the person belongs, the race, the religion etc. And most of all, like conservatives, we don’t like to be Happy and we dont like others being Happy either! We will never laugh from the Belly, its always restrained, like a snicker, cause we are having second thoughts about laughing loudly too. So I prefer to not misrepresent ourselves as Liberals or Modern(we still dont have infrastructure WORKING in our country inspite of being FREE for 65 years), cause we aren’t.

    Now, the previous paragraph of mine will probably get a few of my Indian siblings very riled up. If they do, it just proves my point about we being so easy to provoke, a sign that we lack any mordernity or liberality.

    I can say that it isn’t ALL NRI’s who feel this way. In fact we are quick at adapting things that money brings into their lives or are convenient for them, like doing things that we couldn’t ever imagine doing in India without a mile long objection from every Tom, Dick and Harry around us. But yes, when it comes to “Talk of culture”, we suddenly become two faced. It doesnt surprise me at all, cause I was also in that boat not so long ago. I was Hell bent on getting back to India once we had kids…then I saw people more fanatical than I was and didnt like the way they were talking, suddenly the rose coloured glasses I wore, came off. I am still working at keeping myself on an even keel with raising my children. I ask myself every now and then – Am I doing this cause its what my “imaginary indian culture” is supposed to look like or because it really is appropriate in the current situation?

    When things change, one of two reactions takes place, either we cling to what we know fiercely or we let go of what we know and begin to do things in new ways to accomodate that change. Very rarely do I see someone who has actually considered the merits and demerits of a particular “culture(I hate that term cause it is very relative, dynamic, subjective and without a standard and I like things that can be quantified)” and then deciding whether it is okay to adapt or not.

    NRI’s are people too and some among them are people with a mile long degree to their names but a kindergartner when it comes to Emotional Intelligence. Every choice has a consequence and the consequence of missing home, family, being in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by unfamiliar people, while lacking an Open Accepting Attitude of taking in our stride what comes with our choices in life, is that the person gets into the fetal position in an attempt to save what they think they might lose. Do forgive us…it will take a little while but even this attitude will change… I do see the change happening, cause there are people I have had the pleasure of meeting who are letting their daughters be who they are. Thanks to them, I can hope for a better scenario for my children.

    • “We have more in common with the Republican party of the US and probably most of us would vote for the Republicans if we are citizens here”

      I take HUGE offense at that statement. You couldn’t have picked a worse way to insult my (our) intelligence. Even the most moral of our so-called moral police won’t go about making a big hullabaloo about contraception, and religion. Just yesterday, I was telling a friend that christian fundamentalists leave our moral police far behind in their psychotic fervour.

      • I agree, Thumbelina. I’d take our moral police any day than the American right. But tbh, it is not the Republican party that is at fault here, but a section of the American public who demands regressive laws.

      • Thumbelina – I made that analogy with respect to our attitude, the wanting to stay with old ideas that is not working or irrelevant in the present scenario. It is true that compared to the christian fundamentalists, our moral police are a mere pin-prick…I feel, its better to rid such tendencies now than wait for them to become something like the Taliban. The Republicans are intelligent… but its the kind of intelligence that we dont like or agree with at the present time.

      • I don’t agree. I think if there comes a time when contraception and abortion are up for debate, our moral police would be all over it condemning both. It’s just that talking about anything sex-related is taboo. And/hence they are occupied with policing other things (like mini skirts, inter-religious marriages).

    • Mysoul, The problem is that, one the people who let their daughters be who they are, are too few and far in between and two because there are so few of these folks, they keep quiet and try to blend in with everyone rather than trying to influence change. They indirectly become enablers. because these folks never speak against injustice. Sometimes just letting someone know that what they are doing is wrong and that you do not share their views is enough to make that person hesitate or even just stop and think.

      A culture is nothing but shared habits, beliefs etc. I for one wish all these people spoke up rather than just roll their eyes and walk away.That way we can create a new culture of equality, respect and safety for women. And the best part is if we have enough people following this “new culture” then it would become the dominant culture and the norm.

      Me – I so agree with this Desi Woman. Have done this too. I have seen when the parents support their children, other people generally mind their own business.

      • Thank you Desi Woman, for such a beautiful response…:) Most people dont get that Culture is a constantly changing thing…It is our desire for bettering or changing what doesnt work for us that brings in the aspects of what we call culture…Culture is not written in stone, unless it is an archeological dig.

        While I understand that making noise helps, I also understand that not everyone has the stomach for voicing their opinions or the makings of an influencer of change. I know this is a cliche’d response – everything takes time to happen. Just because someone is quiet doesnt mean nothing is happening. There wasnt much noise before what happened in Egypt/Libya etc…Remember when it was taboo for a woman to sit with her husband/family and eat? Or the time when widows HAD TO live like they are dead, and could never ever remarry? Things change, even in the quiet. So I have Hope it will change for the better.

        Thank you IHM…when I feel nothing is changing fast enough, I come here and look at the responses to the issues you raise here and feel a little better about the world.

  32. We were living in the US for close to 15 yrs when we moved to India with teen kids – son and daughter, we had no choice, both sets of parents were getting old and refused to come live with us, so after the heavy guilt laying, guilt ridden phone calls and drama. we asked them to move with us here ( isn’t that bharatiya kalachar- moving in with kids ) anyway ours seemed to think kids had to come to them, so mom and mil competed in the guilting and we were quite fed up and decide to SACRIFICE out very good life and be adarsh bharatiya kids…
    so we dragged our kids to a place where they could learn “bharatiya culture ” acco to my mom and 5 yrs later we’re back home – yay to good ole USA , back to our lives, with updated bharatiya kalachar … the kids fled a yr ago to college, we all enjoyed India a lot. but biy are we glad to be home. and after seeing India and comparing it to USA.. kids are way way more liberal in India, I don’t see any diff, there’s good and bad everywhere and luckily thanks to my parenting skills ( he he) my daughter managed to not get pregnant in either places….

    now i shall stay here for the next decade and then slowly retire in Bharat :-) or maybe I’ll just get a shack in Hawaii.. never know.

    and both my kids can get married to anyone they wish as long as their mate is “gainfully employed”.. i don’t want any kids coming back home !!!

  33. I’m in the US, and while I want my kids to have their culture, I do not think that India is the bastion of culture it is made out to be. Kids in India want to be westernized (Indian culture apparently not cool enough?), and there are very few checks if underage kids want to procure alcohol etc. In the US, there is a lot more out in the open, which means that there are better safeguards, and there is a conversation going on with regards to issues like alcohol, drugs, sex, STDs, HIV etc. and the law is stricter and less susceptible to money and influence. Indian society has this thin veneer of “culture”. Underneath, we do not actually follow it – I see a lot more courtesy and tolerance in kids (and people) here than I see in kids there, and none of that holier-than-you nonsense. All that said, it does matter a great deal about your attitudes and practices at home – your kids will emulate you/your beliefs, until they get out and make up their own minds (if at all).

    • “Kids in India want to be westernized ”

      What does ‘westernized’ even mean? My husband’s parents are divorced and married to different people (happily), does this make them ‘westernized’? Is choosing your own fate and happiness a ‘westernized’ concept as opposed to an Indian one? I don’t buy it.

      Though this is just from my personal experience, the Indian origin kids raised in the US were raised to believe that they’re the smartest, purest, most amazing people on the planet from the best culture in the world. I never saw the dads help out in the kitchen and I never saw my friends’ moms’ ask for help in the kitchen. They enforced strict gender roles on their children. The amount of racism directed at other races/cultures (specifically african americans) was disgusting. In fact, they stuck a resemblance to the evangelical crazies around us far more than they ever would with, say, people in my husband’s family.

      • No, it doesn’t make them westernized. Because everyone should have the right to live happily as they see fit, without impinging on anyone else’s happiness/freedom, regardless of “culture”. By westernized I meant, eager to embrace anything just because it came from the West/US/UK, without thinking of whether it is good/bad. I do think that Indian culture/religion/philosophy has many problems but it has a lot of good in it also. Indian kids in India seem to be disregarding it completely without even trying to assimilate the “good” parts.

        My personal experience of the US is different. The Indian kids I meet are smart but generally respectful. Most dads I know help out at home and with the kids, and can and do cook – some cook occasionally, while others cook a couple of times a week. I have seen families here where gender roles are given emphasis, although not enforced.

        I do believe that there are desis like the ones you speak of, because I sometimes get to hear such attitudes/remarks in public gatherings. But not all desis are like them. As for not buying it – feel free to do so; this is my opinion, and we can disagree.

      • What does ‘westernized’ even mean?

        I saw that Amodini has already replied to this, but I want to share my opinion as well.

        I don’t see anything (or just not much anyway) wrong with the Western culture. But what I have seen from Indian college kids (my sample size: my college-going cousins in India) adopting Western culture is what they see on the TV and movies. They see it as glamorous and without any responsibilities. They want to be able to go to pubs, wear western clothes, drink, date and have sex just like in the movies with any repercussions. All these things are not wrong by any means. But they have to be done responsibly. Drink responsibly, date without manipulation, respect boundaries/privacy, learn about STDs and contraception, “dress is not a yes”, etc. There is a great need for education for high-school and college kids about these issues (definitely more in India than that in the west). I hate the moral police and parents who say that they don’t want their kids to learn any of this in school “because you know we Indians don’t have sex until marriage.”

        And yes, kids of NRIs have set terrible examples for ignorance and bigotry in the last year. Dharun Ravi and “educated” woman on the train just to name two.

  34. This is one of the crappiest articles I have ever read or seen and its fun to see that IHM takes it over on this. first and foremost , I am not sure who that article’s author is , but she had seemed to take facts that are very selective.
    Any article can write up having their own foregone conclusions and carefully picking up some shred of information somewhere and making sure that its a big deal. Obviously if there a word ‘women’ is mentioned and it talks only abt bad things , IHM will be fully under the microscope.
    Things have changed so much here in the US in the past 5 years and people here are better off in bringing their kids rather than there. I can also write a lengthy article if there are 5 people who believe that the world is flat and if it has a women, abuse,dowry ,etc , this will get a highlight here.
    very adamant that we will NEVER say anything good , and never write about the other side of the story is the highlight of this blog. Dowry , once again have you ever talked to any guys , once again do u know abt 498a, with people like you finding sympathy everywhere harms rather than helps women !

  35. I have a neighbor who must be 2 or 3 years older to me, whose family lives like as if they were transported by a time machine from 1880′s :mad: She sits in a corner of her living room for 7 days during her periods, can’t touch her own kids etc etc and joyfully proclaims that they are glad to be the Keepers of the Indian Culture in USA :cry: I feel for her beautiful kids coz day by day they seem to look so confused about what their parents are telling them to do and what they get to see outside in other cheerful homes.

    Ohh and I feel like beating the crap out of her when she keeps saying “It doesn’t make much of a difference for us having a Green Card coz we are not going to stay here forever and expose our kids to this bad culture”. I couldn’t resist asking her why did they apply for a GC and spend so much money on it, to which she replied that she plans to go back when her old in laws are no more so that she doesn’t have to take care of them :roll: Now I am the one who is quiet confused about what she means by Indian Culture and blah blah…

    • And not wanting to take care of our Elders or Old In-laws are part of the Indian Culture? I wish people would get it that we all do what Works for Us instead of using terms like culture, custom, tradition etc as an excuse for what we want

      • Mysoul, I didn’t mean to say that taking part of elders are part of the Indian culture. I should have written clearly why I said I was confused about her views. She says shamelessly that she has it all calculated; her inlaws are in their late 70′s where as her parents are in their 50′s, so she believes that in a couple of years she will be rid of her in laws and then she can go back and take care of her ageing parents. This thought is what I find really really disturbing. Please do note that she is not harassed by her in laws as she hardly stays with them or talks to them. In her opinion she just doesn’t want her husband to send his hard earned money to his parents, as he is the youngest of 5 sons and she thinks they can do with the care and money the other sons provide.

        I pity her as she hardly has anyone for friends here coz almost all of us are pissed off by the rigid set of rules she tries to impose on us. A few months back she mentioned to me that her husband dislikes any woman(who is menstruating at that time) coming to their home. I told her in that case she is welcome to visit me rather than me visiting her as I don’t keep an account of where I should be going and not going during my periods coz for me it’s just a normal day like any other in my life.

  36. Indian daughters get a message that it’s completely irrelevant what kind of a person you really are. What matters in Indian society is the “impression” about you. Creating such an impression is a daughter’s duty, main lifetime task, and hopefully – also her greatest acheivement.

    It makes you think life is good enough when you follow somebody else’s footsteps. It makes you lazy and under-ambitious, as apart from rare cases of career development, you are generally nothing more than an accessory to your husband, full time maid and caretaker + a reproductive system.

    It makes you think that if you sit quiet and do as everyone around you wants, they will give you a break one day (how naive!).

    Finally, it makes you believe that doing nothing i a good thing and that all the anger, disappointment and unhapiness is a very “wise and educational gift” that you can pass on to your descendants.

    • Yes, we Indians believe that the more a woman suffers disappointments, represses her desires and quells her unhappiness, the better she is at becoming the IDEAL Indian Woman.

  37. Pingback: Nobody asks men if they are married or divorced if want to buy a credit card or mobile phone. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  38. I tread very lightly as I enter the discussion.
    Being a non-Indian I have always thought it curious this double standard.
    Please correct if wrong but isn’t the base for most of these standards having to do with the the fact that there is shame involved? I agree with the other readers about children behaving badly wherever you reside and that the parents have the responsibility for rearing their children with values which might seem like an old fashioned word.
    Just lately our papers carried the news of three woman killed at the hands of their parents because of their apparently loose lifestyle here in the West. If there is any shame/blame, I say shame to the parents for not loving their daughters more than themselves.

    • The reason for the woman wanting to get married again is not clear, is it because she doesn’t like being pitied by neighbours, acquaintances, strangers and their third cousins?

      Though it does show Indian parents’ general disapproval of love marriages.

      Then there are stereotypes – including how it ends with ‘Women and technology!’

      Most Indian women seem to resist divorce often choosing abusive and unhappy marriages over divorce, when they do divorce, it’s not a decision that they take lightly.

      Would such a video inspire a woman in an unhappy marriage to look at divorce as an option?

      • I apologize I posted the wrong link. The woman is getting married because she is ready to start a new life and after 3 years of her husbands disappearance she believes she has a shot at being happy. Just because everyone around her pities her doesnt mean she should sulk.

        The women and technology comment bothered me until i watched the rest of the episode.. not only does one female employee notice his new mac, he also falls in love with a girl whos a tech geek and she takes him to a computer exhibition.

        The rest of the episode has the divorcee’s husband come back and want to marry her, for their “son’s sake”. After a lot of thought, she realizes that hes only back because he is jealous and possessive and decides not to go back to her ex because it would make her unhappy. I think this show did a good job of showing and beating stereotypes. In the next episode they refused a bar girl’s rishta because they didnt want it damaging the firm’s reputation but at the end of the show they realized that they were just being narrow minded.

  39. Pingback: “Hoping god grants more wisdom to your parents to make you understand things and train you to be a good indian wife.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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